Let’s Get It Started…

It’s a new year. New opportunities are ahead. New chances to grow and experience adventures.

Alas, before diving into 2023, the teacher in me decided to reflect on the lessons learned in 2022. The book I published in 2020 was “Lessons Learned Behind the Teacher’s Desk.” In like fashion, I’ve pondered my journey from January 1st, 2022, to December 31st, and made note of many lessons I’ve learned along the way. Some were positive, others were neutral, while others may have seemed negative. But…in Jodi-fashion, I try to see the good lesson even in the midst of the negative experience. Feel free to continue reading if you’re interested…or bored, your choice.

  1. Words have power.
    I knew words were powerful, but last January (I believe) I received an email that had one sentence that overruled the rest of the email’s message. In that one sentence, 25 1/2 years of teaching were overpowered, and I began to doubt my abilities in the classroom. In the end, a meeting got me past the self-doubt, but the words are still in my mind and memory at times. The effect of them on my personal mindset may have been calmed, but the volatile impact on a relationship will take a lot longer to overcome.
  2. Accountability helps.
    I started my current habit of exercising back in May of 2020. I post my workouts on Facebook in an effort to have people hold me accountable. I don’t like letting people down, so having Kevin ask me at work when he hasn’t seen an exercise post or seen me at the gym while he & Michelle are there helps me to go on days when I’d rather not. Likewise, Herman, an older member at my gym, has also started holding me accountable. In the fall, when my workouts changed from mornings to after school, it caused him to think I had quit. When he’d see me on Saturday, he’d ask if I was still coming in, so I shared that my school schedule had been started.
  3. God’s timing is better than ours.
    About 15 years ago, a friend of mine and a friend of hers worked together to set me and the other lady’s brother up on a blind date. Turns out that it wasn’t “too” blind as he knew my family and had even gone to church with us when we first moved to town. He and I went out for a couple months, but it didn’t go anywhere. Last June, I needed directions (I’m definitely direction-challenged) to a teacher’s conference. I texted him for directions. In July, he invited me to a cookout at his sister’s. That was the beginning of a new journey.
  4. Family matters more than money.
    In the spring, my school system created a stipend incentive for teachers to miss 5 or fewer days of work. I generally miss fewer than 10 for the year, so I was focused. I scheduled vet appointments during breaks. I had my sister schedule food-truck fundraisers during my breaks. I was determined. Then, on September 16th, my mom had a heart attack. That led to about 3 weeks in the hospital followed my another 3 weeks in a rehab facility. During the two full weeks she was in the hospital, I worked on Monday, but I then had a substitute for Tuesday through Friday. By fall break, I had missed 9 days of school. The incentive would’ve been a nice check in June, but…being there for my parents and sister was more important. Now? I’m not stressing over medical appointments. There’s always next school year to try again.
  5. Goals matter.
    I don’t make resolutions because I fail miserably at them. I set goals and try to aim for them. Last January, I set a goal to complete 5 100-mile challenges since I had completed 4 in 2021. This year, I’m aiming for 6. Each time I completed a 100-mile challenge, I was fully aware that I walked or pedaled less until the next began. I would be focused on filling my pie graph, but I’d quickly ease up when it was complete. Most times, there was just a week or two between challenges. However, I finished my final 100 mile challenge back in August. I should’ve started another one, but I had met my goal for the year…so told myself I didn’t need to. Lesson learned.
  6. Muscle strains can derail your focus.
    After Thanksgiving, while I was working out at the gym, I was trying to increase my sets and reps and also to increase the pound settings. While at the gym, I accomplished the goal. The final week of school before Christmas break, I had planned to opt out of the gym due to my busy schedule at school and in the evenings. During that same week, I noticed twinges in my side, and I didn’t think anything about it. The first week of break, I had planned to return to the gym, but those side twinges had become quite sharp. I opted out of the gym as it was now painful to even lift my left leg into the car. When I decided it was a muscle strain, I read that it would ease after 1-2 weeks, but it would be “safest” to give it 6-8 weeks to heal completely. Well, I gave it 3, but I returned with less pounds and a decreased number of sets and reps.
  7. Don’t let Google be your doctor, but it can help.
    Googling my symptoms had me finding ALL kinds of things the pain COULD be. I told myself on Christmas Eve that if I was still in pain on the 26th, I’d schedule an appointment at the health clinic. By Monday, the twinges were minimal, so…appointment averted.
  8. I’m lousy at following through on Christmas cards.
    I had them. I even bought more to cover the additional people I wanted to send them to. They’re all in my “Christmas” container to find next Thanksgiving in hopes of being more successful. I even purchased individual cards for my family and a few friends. Sadly, only one of those people actually received the card. Oh well, those card are also packed in the same container.
  9. I’m a big fan of giving gifts.
    Whether it’s my students, my family, friends, or other special people in my life…I love buying gifts that I think people will enjoy. Some items are merely purchased from a ‘wishlist,’ while others are thoughtfully selected based on memories or reasons. Regardless, wrapping those items up and giving them are enjoyable parts of my holiday. Likewise, doing the same for my nephew’s birthday (5 days after Christmas) is just as meaningful to me.
  10. In the words of my students, “You love everything, Ms. P.”
    On December 16th, several of my students excitedly brought in gifts to me. Whether it was a pair of socks, a coffee mug, or lotion, I would exclaim, ” I Love __. Thanks so much.” I hope I’m always that way. Giving gifts to someone who it criticial of what he opens is not enjoyable to anyone.
  11. Visiting residents in a nursing home is always met with smiles.
    The mother of friends of mine went into a nursing facility the week of Thanksgiving, and it may likely be a longtime living arrangement. Knowing how much visits meant to my grandpa (even though his Alzheimer’s made him forget shortly thereafter), I try to stop by once a week just to pop in. If I pop in during dinner time, I end up sitting with her and three other ladies. The five of us sit and talk – often about how none of them received what they ordered – but we toss in other items of discussion as well. You should try it. You’ll feel like a celebrity as they begin to look forward to your visits.
  12. Cat cuddles cure lots of things.
    Cold? Tired? Overworked? Stressed? Lonely? Bored? Busy? Any of those can be lessened with a cat cuddle. Of course, not all cats like to cuddle, but my two…they’re exPURRts!

I could come up with more, but it’s getting dark. School resumes tomorrow. I need to get this uploaded.

To any of you who are reading my ramblings, I wish you the happiest of New Years! May it be filled with adventures and pleasant surprises. The possibilities are endless, and I hope you learn lessons along the way.

Jodi Lea

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